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Prognosis for Nurses Bodes Ill

January 29, 2002

Re "Davis Reveals Plan to Limit Hospital Nurses to 5 Patients," Jan. 23: I've been an ER nurse for nearly 20 years. I've cared for patients crammed into plastic chairs in hallways, stacked against the walls on gurneys and literally out of the door in the emergency entrance because there are not enough beds to accommodate them inside. I've been forced to treat multiple patients on ventilators, others with head injuries, heart attacks and those in intractable pain simultaneously because the hospital claims it can't hire enough nurses.

The issue is not just about money, either. I remember asking one nurse to stay over and work a double shift and his response was, "You could offer me $200 an hour and I wouldn't stay." No rational person relishes a job where you don't even have time to go to the bathroom or that makes you fearful that someone is going to die because of too little help.

If those in charge continue to ignore adequate patient care and instead insist on purchasing a CT scanner or building a fancier lobby, with their photo in the newspaper as proof, both patients and nurses are going to suffer. Staffing ratios, as with elementary schools, will force the guys who control the purse strings to do the right thing and hire more help.

Will this solve the entire health care crisis? Certainly not. But it will definitely go a long way toward improving things both for patients as well as the nurses who care for them.

Richard C. Mallyon

Lancaster

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Congratulations to Gov. Gray Davis and the California Nurses Assn. for creating nurse staffing ratios that have no hope of being successful. They will not succeed because there simply aren't enough nurses or dollars to meet the current demand, let alone what is anticipated for the future.

This action serves to further the rift between hospital administrations and the nursing profession when what is really needed is a collaborative effort to create and implement patient-care delivery systems that will meet the needs of patients, nurses and the bottom line.

Carol O'Dea RN

Manhattan Beach

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This staffing minimum is long overdue. Managers at local hospitals claim they have many unfilled positions, which is true. What the managers do not tell the public is that they do not even bother to post the unfilled positions or advertise them to the public.

Another problem in attracting qualified nurses and other health care professionals is the lack of a decent paycheck. A registered nurse with a bachelor of science degree is paid less than the hospital's painter or locksmith.

After over 20 years in the health care field, I am attending school to train for another profession. I love patient care; I just cannot stand the oppression from management any longer. I doubt if the new state guidelines will change anything.

Annette Gregson

Rossmoor, Calif.

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